written & directed by: M. Night Shyamalan,
starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, and Sarah Paulson.
M. Night Shyamalan‘s career has been an interesting one to watch. There was a time where he was once touted as the next Spielberg—and for a good reason. But then, he stumbled—quite badly and not only once. Eventually, he became the laughing-stock of Hollywood, and was forever known as the ‘Shyamaladingdong.’
But then, came the The Visit a small little flick that was by all means, not a home-run. But a decent swing from Shyamalan, considering his asinine track-record. Then, came Split—a great little psych-thriller with a magnificent performance from James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy. Not to mention, it was a tie-in to what some would consider to be his best work; Unbreakable.
Just like that, Shyamalan’s little movie has put him on the radar again. But not without a hefty price. Shyamalan’s latest follow-up to his Unbreakable series, Glass. Will either make or break him. If it’s a hit, then Shyamalan‘s back. If it fell face down however, then Split and The Visit were just mere convenient flukes in Shyamalan’s incompetence.
Glass ended up being none of that…
Glass starts out as an obvious sequel to unbreakable. It follows Bruce Willis‘ David Dunn—who thankfully didn’t mail it in, unlike his recent ventures. It wonderfully sets up the journey that we’re about to embark on. The audience has been craving to see David Dunn face off James McAvoy’s The Beast, and it was immensely satisfying. The action was well shot, no presence of shaky-cam, and in classic Shyamalan-style— his camera-work is injected with the personality of the characters he’s filming.
In-terms of characters, the aforementioned Bruce Willis, and James McAvoy were great, and while Samuel L. Jackson’s Mr. Glass is mostly at large in the third act—he delivers when he’s counted on. It was also nice to see a consistency of casting in the supporting characters with Spencer Treat Clark, and Charlayne Woodard coming back 19 years later. Anya Taylor-Joy’s role however, was surprisingly significant. In fact, that seems to be the case with all of the supporting characters.
While the premise and the marketing material would convince you that this is a sequel that’s more akin to Split, rather than Unbreakable—mental institutions, small enclosed spaces, characters being held their will. When you actually see it, Glass owes its unique slow-burn tone to Unbreakable. Not to mention, the fact that this is solely a character-centric film which makes it incredibly frustrating, since it’s hard to dig deep into its story without delving into spoilers.
The story is purely simple “David Dunn, The Beast, Elijah Price doesn’t like being in this mental institution“—that’s literally it. It’s the character moments, and constant questioning from Sarah Paulson’s character that’s incredibly compelling. The whole movie’s objective is to question whether our favorite characters are actually superheroes, or just mentally ill people with delusions of grandeur.
It’s the reactions from these characters when they’re told that they aren’t what they are—that hits you in the core, and how literally soul-crushing it is for them, and the lengths they will go through to prove their value.
Not sure if it’s intentional or not, but Shyamalan’s central theme of this mental institution reeks of gay conversion-therapy allegories. Whether it’s intentional or not—it’s the most enthralling aspect of the film—the desperate outcry for representation, and the truly awful feeling of not having a place in the world.
This theme thankfully punches through some of the questionable decisions that Shyamalan makes in the third act—that will surely frustrate audiences…
While Glass does eventually run out of gas, it was a fun ride regardless, and it leaves you with a message that’s surprisingly compelling.